Could someone please tell me if Deplete and Dwindle are completely interchangeable in the text below?

Anlong Veng is mostly populated by former Khmer Rouge cadres and their progeny. The fanatical regime's surviving leaders, depleted militia and dwindling supporters decamped there in the 1980s after Vietnam toppled the Khmer Rouge and installed a new government.

Source : Time Magazine (The online version doesn't contain this paragraph. It's somewhat longer than the paper version.)

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    I won't say it's General Reference, but in fact the cited usage pretty much captures the difference in usage. If they were completely interchangeable, the writer could more succinctly have used depleted militia and supporters or dwindling militia and supporters. The reason he didn't is precisely because of the (slight) differences outlined by @user3169. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '14 at 13:26

depleted militia

is talking about a militia that has used up all its resources. This could be manpower (such as soldiers) or equipment (such as tanks, guns etc.). Also the militia effectiveness has been reduced.

dwindling supporters

is referring to a reduced quantity of supporters.

So deplete has more to do with used up resources or effect, while dwindle has more to do with quantity reduction. If you check the definitions I think you can see the difference.

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  • Thank you :) Deplete and Dwindle seemed very alike to me.I thought maybe the writer had tried to avoid repeating the same word. – user3214 Jun 29 '14 at 6:18
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    @GATA: Per my comment to the question, your thinking is the exact opposite of what's really going on. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '14 at 13:28

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